Sun, Snow and Sand

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Hello friends,

So sorry for my extended blog absence! I have been running around for the past four weeks – lots of travel and skiing, not enough yoga, definitely not enough work (January is slow for flowers) and now on top of it all, I’ve been in bed for days on end with a wretched dizzying cold. Lame. I am a terrible patient normally, but this illness knocked me down so hard that I’ve had little choice but to lay on the couch indulging in Netflix binges (just started Sherlock and Boardwalk Empire – sooo good!).

I have a few Ashtanga posts that have been marinating in the old noggin recently, but given my lack of energy, those will wait for a few days to manifest.

So for now, here are a few little snaps of these past few weeks of fun in the sun, in both Colorado and Antigua.

xo,
Frances

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Road Tripping + Relaxing

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We have returned from our wonderfully lazy and fun Crestone gettaway.

Despite my best intentions to go for big hikes, do lots of yoga, meditate for hours blah blah blah, what we really did was sleep, eat and laugh! We went for a daily leisurely stroll too. And honestly, I think that was much more in line with what I actually needed. I feel happy, rested and very connected right now upon my return to the big city.

Nine plus hours of sleep for 5 nights in a row. Heaven! Long soaks in the healing waters of Ojo Caliente. Superb! The final season of The Office. Oh my goodness! Excuse me for tarnishing any shiny spiritual veneer you might have imagined on me, but that stuff is freakin’ hilarious!

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Rest + Rejuvenate: A Blogcation

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It’s been sloooow round the blog recently. Sorry about that! Life is feeling very full and fast right now and I’ve been struggling with making time to write. Inspiration abounds, but sadly, my energy does not.

Tomorrow we leave for our first trip away from Denver (minus wedding work weekends in Aspen) since we returned from India in February! We are so ready for some time away from the city and from the busyness of school, work, etc., etc.,

Thaddeus and I really need this quiet time for relaxation and rest, and for spending quality time together to nurture our relationship. When life gets busy, as you well know, that is one of the first things to get overlooked.

We are leaving our little pup with my mum in Boulder so we can truly kick back and live without a schedule for 5 days. Thaddeus and I will be in Crestone CO with our dear teachers, Dan and Sue. We plan on sleeping a lot, getting a few healing treatments, meditating daily, writing, reading, practicing yoga and qi gong, going for long walks, cooking lazily, playing a little harmonium, visiting the ashram and generally chilling. We are also going to spend one night down at Ojo Caliente to soak in the springs and enjoy a little walk down memory lane.

Oh, and did I mention, it’s my birthday on Wednesday! I’m definitely going to need to reflect on this whole getting older thing… 😉

So, I will not be blogging for the next week. I need a little time off anything and everything that feels like “work.”

I plan to return with gusto next Monday!

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Ever grateful!

Love Frances

The India Chronicles

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Anushree – the daughter of our landlord in India

Home at last! Our journey back to Denver was long and tiresome. We ended up stuck in Dubai for 26 hours. Luckily Emirates put us up in a hotel so we were able to rest, but I sure was happy to take off those traveling clothes last night! Our heater broke when we were gone, so we are bundled up in our down booties and jackets in our drafty 47 degree home right now. Quite different from the humid sweaty days in Kovalam.

Give me a few days to get back on my feet, but for now, here is a list of all my posts about being in India practicing Ashtanga Yoga with David Garrigues.

One week from today, we will be on another plane – this time to San Diego for the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence!

Stay tuned…

 

In the meantime, check out….

Ashtanga Adventures

Greetings from Kovalam

Our Kovalam ‘Hood

Thali Tuesday and Coconut Party Time

Processing

Sand and Sea

Ashtanga Maniac

A Day in the Life

Working with my Inner Brat

Patience is a Virtue…I’m Working On It

Indian Snapshots

Pain, Sunburn, Laughter and a Sobfest

Italy in India

Are You Looking For Me?

Tips to Improve Your Ujjayi Breathing

Health-Changing Reads

I’m Digging This…

Unseasonal Rain

A Trivandrum Trip

How to Deal with the Inner Voices of Self-Criticism

And That’s A Wrap!

 

Hope you enjoy catching up on all the posts from India – Thanks for reading!

Blessings,

Frances

A Trivandrum Trip

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe goofy mustaches in India still make me giggle and wonder….

Yesterday we ventured back into the city, Trivandrum, for a little outing with our friend Lauren and her partner.

The main focus of the day, honestly, was to eat some more tasty veggie thali. 

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We bopped around and did a little shopping. Here’s my favorite picture of the day – Thad in the “trial room”.

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Most of our shopping was cut short because of a State-wide protest. Apparently, McDonald’s is going to open their first Kerala franchise and the people here are very unhappy about that, so they demonstrated this by shutting down all the businesses and banks yesterday. I asked my driver if the people were mad because McDonald’s kills so many cows, but he said that it has more to do with the fact that McDonald’s is such a large corporation and that the Keralanians (I’m making that up, but you know what I mean) don’t want it to be taking money away from local businesses.   Interesting…I still think the cow-killing is worse.

Anyways, enjoy these images from our explorations around town!

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Just 3 more days in India. Can’t say I’m really that bummed about it.

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Me and My Funny Valentine

I’m looking forward to the snow back home.

I’ve already started planning out my first full meal to cook at home…though the more I dream about it, the bigger it gets. Right now it’s up to quinoa, acorn squash, black beans, sesame kale, avocado and a tahini-ginger-parsley sauce….oh yummy yummy.

Blessings!

Frances

Pain, Sunburn, Laughter and a Sobfest.

That’s all folks. That pretty much sums up my day.

I wish I had some brilliant insights and beautiful photos to share with you, but honestly, I’m spent from the good and the bad of this day and all I really want to do is snuggle up with my man and maybe kick his butt in a round of cards.

Yoga made me cry this morning – involuntary dribbly tears. It was a morning of shooting pain, weak arms and getting dragged down by my defeatist attitude. Those practices happen. Live and learn.

Left yoga early, got online, contemplated changing my return ticket back to the States to leave…tomorrow. Had a little cry. Thad got home and in attempts to make me laugh said “This really is the worst honey moon ever”, which promptly turned me into a massive sobfest.

And then that too passed. Had a group breakfast, DG gave me some good solid advice and reassurance about my practice including a legit compliment on my bakasana – “you really are my student!”  That was good.

Power was out in the whole town all day long. So, in an attempt to stay cool, we went to the beach. I managed to get a tiny sunburn on one arm and my belly. Lame. It hurts.

Had some good laughs, read a good chunk out of my book and then topped it off with a tasty early dinner and some cake with friends.

Boom. That was my day in a nutshell.

Let’s hope for something a bit more profound tomorrow, shall we? But I made a promise to post every single day so this is what you get.

Love to all my readers for sticking with me on this Indian roller coaster! Thanks!

Blessings

Frances

A Day in the Life.

Sunday Funday – this was a good one with a little extra twist at the end.

You might wonder what we do all day here in Kovalam after practice is done, so I’m going to give a little run-down of today to paint a picture for you.

I’m kind of lazy so I rise out of bed around 6am. I dry brush and then take a cold bucket shower.I practice a brief sequence of Kundalini Yoga warmups including some Breath of Fire to wake up! Then I sit for 10 minutes of alternate nostril breathing followed by 10 minutes of silent meditation.

By this time, I’m ready to practice so I walk over to the shala, arriving around 7am. My practice is just around 2 hours right now.

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Afterwards, David answered questions for the group and then gave a wonderful talk on the Samadhi Pada of the Yoga Sutras (more on that tomorrow).

Post-talk, some of us convened for a leisurely breakfast at one of our favorite places – we call it “Super Bottoms!”

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I let myself eat whatever and however much I want here in India (including dairy, which is typically a no-no for me) and I still manage to come home in better shape, mostly from the intensity of practice plus the heat and lots of walking.

For breakfast I like masala dosa, papaya juice and a pot of chai with extra ginger. Darn tasty.

Today we refrained from the beach and sun. Instead, I ran over to the tailor to pick up my new dress and then we spent the mid-part of the day relaxing, reading, playing cards and doing a few loads of bucket laundry, which is a workout in itself.

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We gathered with some friends for a late lunch at one of the more Western vibe restaurants called “Fusion”. It’s a bit overpriced but the date shakes are divine and there’s a nice view of the ocean. I was not in the mood for Indian food, so I went out on a limb and ordered the mysterious “tofu burger”. Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me.

What arrived was something like a tofu stir-fry stuffed into a patty of fried potato on some rye bread and spicy tapioca chips. Hilarious, but kind of delicious nonetheless.

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We hired a bevy of rickshaws to take us up to hill to meet up with DG, who led us valiantly back into the jungle on his motorcycle to the house that he and Joy rent.

I love this picture because it pretty much captures both of their respective and differing attitude towards India.

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We convened at DG’s awesome place which overlooks this massive old limestone quarry filled with fresh water, to read aloud Thornton Wilder’s classic play “Our Town”.

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We ate fresh papaya and cashews and gathered in their kitchen as Joy assigned us parts. Despite most people’s reservation about the whole play-reading idea, we all had such a blast. Our European friends were such good sports reading aloud this play in English with all its dated slang and lingo. There was much laughter all around.

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To close our soiree, some students jumped in a nearby swimming hole while the rest of us ventured to the tiny neighborhood temple to take a look around.

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We climbed on top of a massive sun-baked rock to chill and watch the sunset before returning back to our own homes.

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Home now and ready to call it a night. I was a bit overzealous with the uploading of all these photos given the speed of our internet – whoops. I’m so happy to be blogging this trip, but it can be kind of a pain given the connection.

Thad and I are going to practice our nightly meditation together now, read for a few and then be out by 9:30pm so we will be bright eyed and bushy tailed for Mysore and guided pranayama tomorrow morning.

So that was my Sunday.

What about you?

Thanks for reading Lila!

Blessings,

Frances

Processing.

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Time for a little honesty.

More than five times a day right now, I think to myself “I wish we hadn’t come to India this year.”

My yoga practice is the only thing holding me on this beautiful and wretched subcontinent. But sometimes that’s not enough.

I realize I’m blessed to be here, to have this time to work closely with my teacher and get a nice tan, but even so, I’m struggling and I wish I was back home.

Yesterday I barely made it through standing series before I crying. These were the first real tears of the trip. I guess it was just a matter of time. There was no specific trigger per se, just the overload of emotions and fatigue. Simply standing there breathing in samasthithi was enough to open the floodgates.

I’ve had this low-grade headache for almost a week now. It comes in waves but is ever-present. Not surprisingly, this has significantly lowered my tolerance for just about everything. I’m feeling super sensitive and I’m finding that my feelings are getting hurt left and right.

By now, I’ve resigned myself to my modified practice. I’m not expecting to make massive leaps and bounds this trip. I’m not concerned with getting new poses or deepening my backbends.

Honestly, with my SI pain the way it is, I’m lucky if I can do supported dropbacks at all. And that’s fine.

David is helping me work with my condition, to build strength and stability. I’m barely doing kapotasana (DG says it’s “irrelevant” right now, which is kind of amazing. I wish it was always so!). Instead I’m spending time each day squeezing a rubber ball between my thighs like crazy as I slowly and cautiously repeat and hold ustrasana and laghu vajrasana.

Despite my relative patience and acceptance of this time of injury, it’s still kind of lame to be the gimp when so many people around me are getting new poses, pushing themselves to deeper levels and then discussing the intricacies and challenges of their new asanas all the time.

Today I finally snapped at Thad, “I don’t want to hear about how hard galavasana is one more time! I don’t give a sh*t!!!!”

Yea, I know, best little wifey ever, right? But seriously, come on, of course it’s hard, it’s fricking third series, it’s supposed to be hard!

Sigh…

Okay, here’s another thing.

On our third full day here, I checked my email for the first time and received some news that really shook me up.  It was so upsetting initially that I became dizzy, nauseous and very faint. I’m Victorian like that. If my corset was any tighter I probably would have fainted then and there.

Since then, I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions from diabolical rage, disgust and panic to utter hopelessness, resignation and disinterested apathy. Over the past few days, this situation keeps returning to me, at times making me very sad and upset but then passing over, leaving me complacent and empty inside.

Often in life it seems like we get to a place with one of our personal challenges where we think we’ve “won”, when we believe we have  finally learned the lesson we needed to learn, experienced the growth necessary to move on and it’s now over. But this can be misleading.  For me, I’ve found that often I resolve an issue only to a certain degree, when, tired of the work involved, I push the emotional remnants under the carpet, disengage or deny it all, under the guise that I’m practicing non-attachment. I temporarily forget or ignore the issue, until life throws it back up at me with a wicked vengeance.

This is what is happening now.

It’s easier the second or third time around of course. I’ve spent so much psychic and emotional energy unpacking it, contemplating, trying to learn and forgive. That work was not in vain, but it’s not finished either.

In this sense, I’m thanking my lucky stars that I’m on the other side of the world during all this. I’m kind of glad I’m not easily accessible to my family. I’m extra glad I don’t have access to a phone. So much less damage is occurring because of my absence.

This distance is giving me the space and time I need to find balance and acceptance.

My yoga practice is offering me the opportunity to process these difficult emotions, to work through the pain and hurt.

Processing is not easy work. And being in India is not easy either. It’s as if this place purposefully confronts you with your shortcomings and challenges. There’s no escaping it.

But, as we often say,

“Better out than in.”

 

Here’s to working it out…

 

Blessings,

Frances

Thali Tuesday and Coconut Party Time.


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Yesterday a group of 18 of us piled in a few taxis and ventured into the city of Trivandrum.

We know a number of the other yoga students here from attending this Mysore intensive last year and from practicing at DG’s studio in Philly. But there are some newbies too, mostly Europeans. Our little outing yesterday was a fun way for us to get to know each other better.

We went to a celebrated vegetarian thali restaurant in the city. Thali are traditional South Indian meals that consist of many little dishes, both sweet and savory, served on a banana leaf with chapati, pappadam and rice. As soon as you finish one dish, a server is scooping more food onto your plate whether you want it or not.

We all stuffed our faces and had a very convivial time – practicing 2+ hours of Ashtanga in this heat definitely works up an appetite!

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With full bellies, we traversed the chaos of center city to get to the shopping oasis of FabIndia. This is a great store found all over India that sells high-quality, well-priced clothes, accessories, bedspreads and other home decor all made of hand-blocked cotton and silk by Indian artisans. Thaddeus and DG both rock the FabIndia signature fitted vests and I love all the beautiful printed kurtas. They are the perfect thing to toss on over yoga clothes for going out to breakfast or to dress up in for temple.

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Afterwards a few of us ventured into the market place to help Thad find a small, 1 and a half octave harmonium so he and I can chant while we are here. We were unsuccessful but it was still quite the entertaining adventure to pop in and out of all the different music shops in town.

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Another highlight from yesterday was arriving home from practice to discover a local man high up in the trees above our apartment tossing down coconuts. He had tied a rope around this ankles, scaled up the slender trunk with a huge rusty knife in his hand and was hurling palm fronds and green coconuts all over the place.

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After he descended, the proprietor of our place popped out with a bunch of straws. Our friendly little coconut man, started chopping them open for us to drink the fresh juice.

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Warm coconut juice is not quite as refreshing as the cans from the Whole Foods cooler (hate to say that…) but the novelty of our impromptu coconut party on the porch was way cooler.

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Thanks for reading Lila.

Love and Blessings,

Frances

Our Kovalam ‘Hood

Hi there.

Finally got my own internet up and running – what an ordeal! But it’s totally worth it now. I’m looking forward to keeping this blog up to date as practice continues.

It feels great to be guided by David as I navigate through this time of injury. He’s been super supportive and compassionate. I’ve learned that having bad SI pain makes you way more sympathetic to others when they are going through it!

Soon we are off to the city to go eat thali and shop at FabIndia. Yay!

But for now, I want to share a few photos of what our temporary home in Kovalam looks like. It’s quite different from the Rocky Mountains, that’s for sure.

Love and Blessings.

Frances

 

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